I’ve been addicted to more things than I can count. For reference, I just made this handy chart. Black check marks are legitimate medical uses. Red check marks are recreational:
I’ve taken Imitrex and codeine for migraines, hydrocodone (Vicodin) for pain–the last time was when I sprained my ankle a few years ago–and I’m currently on a generic of Celexa for major depressive disorder. The rest of those check marks are all recreational use. That’s a lot of recreation.
The only “big boy” of street drugs I haven’t tried is LSD. I once had a friend who took way too much of it and lived in a constant state of flashbacks and twitches. That scared me enough to never want to try it. Comparatively, LSD is one of the tamest on that list. Especially when ranked against heroin, crack and meth.
I started drinking and smoking pot around the age of fifteen. By the time I was seventeen, if I showed up to school at all, I was drunk, high or both. I kept a bottle in my locker.
When I was eighteen, I earned myself a very serious addiction to crack cocaine. Oh, boy, is that drug awesome. It hooked me right away. Love at first inhale. I gave it everything I had including my home, all of my money, my friendships and even my body. Our whirlwind romance left me a homeless prostitute in the middle of winter. I finally broke it off. You can read the how and why here.
I kicked it all on my own. I stayed clean for something like ten years, though I never counted since remembering dates is not my strong suit. When I say clean, that didn’t include things like alcohol, weed or other “tame” drugs. It mean that I didn’t use crack. Never mind the fact that I racked up all of those other check marks. Those don’t count since I wasn’t addicted to them, right? The important thing was that, for a number of years, I steered clear of cocaine, because crack is in the cocaine family. I was afraid of ending up there again.
My social life for the entire decade of my twenties was supported by ephedrine. Trucker crank as they called it. Uppers. Really, really up. That’s where I wanted to be. I would walk into a convenience store, any convenience store, and right there on the counter was a display of this:
I popped Mini Thin when I went out. I took them the next morning so that I could function at work on only two hours of sleep. Then I’d do it all over again the next day. I’d go through a bottle a week. At that point, it was still legal. And then some do-gooder in some level of government went and banned the sale of ephedrine over the counter. Well, shit.
My rule had always been nothing up my nose, nothing in my veins. I honestly don’t even remember when I broke that rule. You’d think that breaking an important rule I made for myself would be really memorable, but it wasn’t.
I snorted a line of cocaine and then another and another one after that. Ooh, cocaine is fun! It’s not nearly as good as crack, so I won’t become addicted. At least, that’s what I told myself. From there, it was a slippery slope.
I tried meth. The first time, I snorted it and I was high for something like two and a half days. Meth is a stupid drug. It takes you up so high and makes you so scattered that you can’t even finish a sentence. When I was on it, I decided I’d reorganize my closet. I got the stepladder out, pulled some boxes down and it sat there for two days. I tried some art. I made a mess and left it. I wasn’t hungry. I couldn’t fuck. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t do anything except pace and think half-formed sentence fragments.
The next time I tried it, someone convinced me that smoking it is a way mellower high that doesn’t last nearly as long. This time, I was high for about 24 hours and in the same state of failure at everything. I never did meth again. You’d think after the first time, I would never do it again, but no.
I tried the entire opiate family from tame little Vicodin to heroin. Smoking it, chasing the dragon. I liked heroin, but it’s not nearly as good as crack. Nothing is as good as crack. Granted, the second part of my rule stayed firmly in effect: nothing in my veins. If I had broken that part of the rule, I might have become addicted to heroin, too.
I did a lot of ecstasy. The up is great, but the down is positively awful, especially if you already have depression.
I did a lot of mushrooms. I very much like mushrooms. They’re probably my favorite drug besides crack because they’re mellow without the post-use chemical depression of ecstasy. I wrote about my experiences on mushrooms here.
I tried a bit of everything, but nothing stuck. I wouldn’t let it. I wouldn’t be an addict again. Or at least, that’s what I told myself.
Then, I smoked crack again. I let the drug that dragged me down the first time drag me down again. I had missed its sweet caress. Oh, how I had missed it. I let it enfold me in its familiar embrace for weeks on end. I knew what I was doing and I hated myself for it. I hated myself.
I was doing crack again.
I gave it up.
I put down my pipe and smashed it. No more crack ever.
I went back to cocaine. I really, really like cocaine. If I had it, I did it. It got to the point, only a few measly years ago, where I was drinking every night and doing lines in the bathroom at work.
I was doing lines of cocaine in the bathroom at work.
That might be a problem.
That is a problem.
I have a problem.
I stopped doing cocaine. I just stopped. I didn’t go to rehab. I didn’t get any help. I just stopped. I stopped drinking every day. I got rid of all the alcohol in my house.
It is just that easy to fall back into it again. It is as simple as letting yourself. There are a million justifications for doing it and only one for not. I don’t want to die. That’s what hardcore drug use boils down to: do you care if you die?
The first time I got addicted to crack, I didn’t care whether I lived or died. I let it take me all the way down. This time, I did care. I didn’t want to die. I clambered and clawed at the side of my addiction, looking for traction and finding little, but sometimes, just a little traction is enough. Sometimes, all it takes is a tiny foothold to drag yourself back up again. I’ve done it twice and I don’t ever intend to do it again. But, as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
I have been clean for three years. And when I say clean, this time, I really mean it. I survived. I am drug-free. I never used a needle, so I am still communicable disease-free. I don’t take ephedrine. I hardly drink or smoke weed anymore, but neither has ever been my problem, not even when I was drinking every day. Alcohol and marijuana are both downers and I am all about the up.
I still smoke cigarettes because I have always smoked cigarettes and I don’t know how to stop. I am addicted to coffee, but I limit my daily intake and never drink it after 3pm. I am addicted to playing mahjong (the real 4-person game, not that solitaire thing) on my phone, but only on breaks and never for real money. I am addicted to my dog, to this blog and to reading books. I take antidepressants, over the counter sleeping pills and pain relievers when I get a headache, and any prescribed medication as directed. That’s it.
If you are an addict, please, get help. You can overcome it. It can be done, but you have to want it. You have to decide once and for all the answer to the question. Do you care if you die?